Initially it appears as though there is no plot in the film, The 400 Blows, because it chronicles the misadventures and mishaps of a young boy, however the true plot of the story lies in his struggle and attempt to be understood by his parents and society. Throughout the film, the viewers follow Antoine as he commits mischievous acts seemingly without reason. In various scenes Antoine commits acts that are deemed inappropriate and deplorable, however even as he is condemned for his actions, he is silenced and denied the opportunity to explain himself. Because society labels him as a menace and nuisance, he attempts to find ways in which he is able to express his own thoughts and feelings in order to be understood by those who reject him.
An example of his silencing is seen in one of the first scenes in the movie at 0:04:00, which is when he is punished by his teacher for having a pin-up poster. Immediately after being caught with the poster in his hands, Antoine is summoned to his teacher’s desk, where he silently accepts his punishment, only to later express his defiance and subsequent innocence in a poem he writes on the wall. At first it appears as though Antoine is a mischievous boy who vandalizes the wall on purpose, knowing that it would only make his teacher angrier, however the reason Antoine is forced to express his words through writing is because he is silenced by society. When he goes up to his teacher’s desk he does not utter a word because he knows that his teacher would not allow him to talk regardless. The teacher’s possible refusal to allow Antoine to speak is shown when at 0:04:13 he angrily shouts to his students for “silence!” Though the classroom is associated with learning and the fostering of int...
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...n the role of his mother. Another figure who fails to embody motherhood is the prostitute he visits. He explains that the first time he visited the prostitutes they yelled at him and as a result he was scared and forced to leave. Earlier in the conversation he had mentioned that his mother also yells at him, and as such the prostitutes remind him of his mother’s disdain for him. The image of the yelling prostitutes is overlapped with the image of his mother yelling at him, and reminds of his mother’s rejection of him. He seeks the prostitutes as a way of recovering the maternal affection and understanding that he is denied by his own mother.
Though the movie appears to only relate the adventures and mistakes of Antione, it actually captures the struggle of a boy attempting to gain affection, understanding, and attention from society, but in particular his mother.
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